I've been saying all week that I am a straight ahead type of a person. Give me a goal, and I can usually find the path and keep on trudging when I can't run.
Thanks to rejection by a small college press, November gave me a few days off, a chapbook of poetry, and a bit of a chip on my shoulder. Rejection is not pretty--yes, it's instructive, but it also takes a little bite out of the psyche every time one arrives.
Thanks to the monthly missive from Duotrope and the playful suggestions from Submishmash, I renamed and edited the poems into a friendlier collection named Birds Like Me. I am so grateful to the editors at Finishing Line Press for sending a happy note along with an acceptance via email. I was astounded--a real publishing contract.
The nitty-gritty of the agreement is this: I pre-sell 75 plus copies before mid-August, and my slim tome is published by a very fine press. The pressure has been building ever since. Stephanie read the contract and approved it. A friend and former student, Danielle Greene read the collection, edited, and made suggestions, my sister Pat and friend Katherine read touchy pieces, and I asked Nancy Mitchell of The Out of Body Shop fame to write a blurb. Novelist and reviewer, Jerry Sweeney agreed to write another. Kelly O'Brien Russo took beautiful pictures one golden Saturday with me on Assateague Island. I've put in whole days editing, shifting around the order, making lists, and hoping that I'm not messing up the magic. Because that's what poetry is--magic solidified and compressed into an image.
In between, my buddy Karen lost her struggle with metastatic cancer last Saturday. Sometimes life grinds to a halt, shakes you by the scruff, and tosses you back a couple of miles. Sometimes you dip off the path for a breather.
Hug the ones you love, and practice patience with the rest.
J D Cooper
Author of the Lilac Hill series, The Portia Journal, other novels and countless short stories